The nutritional knowledge of Northern Illinois University athletes
Sabatino, Amy E.
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Athletes need appropriate nutritional support. Yet, inadequate diets are common among athletes due to nutrition misinformation, dietary fads, and obsessions with weight and food. The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to determine the nutritionknowledge scores of college athletes competing at a midwestem state university, (b) to compare the nutrition-knowledge scores of male and female athletes, and (c) to compare the nutrition-test scores between athletes who use credible versus noncredible nutrition information sources. The knowledge test was developed by the investigator, and it consisted of items pertaining to the following subcategories: (a) energy nutrients, (b) ergogenic aids, (c) minerals/vitamins/fiber, (d) fluid intake, (e) weight control/training styles, and (f) Food Guide Pyramid/general nutrition. Demographic information was also included. A pilot test was given to 14 Certified Athletic Trainers and 19 college students enrolled in a general education sociology course to develop acceptable construct validity and internal consistency. Based on the item analysis, a few items were modified. One hundred sixty-one male (n=76) and female (n=85) college athletes, who were currently competing on 10 sports teams (softball, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, cross country, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, wrestling, men’s swimming, and women’s swimming), participated in the study by completing the revised nutrition-knowledge test. A 2x2 (source x sex) analysis of variance of the test scores w ^ performed. There was no significant difference between source of information on test scores (credible: M = 38.8, SD = 3.7; noncredible: M = 38.3, SD = 5.0; F[sub 1,144] = 0.3, p = 0.6). However, the females (40.7±4.3) had significantly higher test scores than the males (36.4±4.4) (F[sub 1,144]=20.1, p< 0001). Eighty-five percent was set as an acceptable level of knowledge as measured by this test. None of the teams met this standard of 85%, but one team, cross country, did average a team score of 84% (Min =59%, Max= 93%). No interaction existed between sex of athlete and source of their nutritional information (F[sub 1,144] = 1.4, p = 0.3). Based on the results of this study, it is evident that nutrition knowledge is lacking among college athletes, especially males, competing at this midwestem state university.